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Canadian credit union Desjardins Group will be teaming up with five provincial credit union centrals and insurer CUMIS Group Ltd. to establish one of the country’s biggest wealth management companies.

The merger deal solidifies the reach of Desjardins as the main provider of financial services for all Canadian financial co-operatives.

Desjardin’s president and chief executive Guy Cormier stated that the transaction was completely in line with their duty to deepen their relationship with Canada’s credit union network and in line with their plans to continue expanding outside Québec.  

Cormier has been seeking to acquire insurers, wealth managers, and payment companies as a way to broaden Desjardins’ reach outside the province.

The agreement is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018, subject to approval from regulators.

Aviso Wealth to be a Major Canadian Wealth Management Firm 

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The Lévis-based asset manager said that the new entity, Aviso Wealth, will be an independent wealth management firm with more than 500,000 clients across the country and over C$55 billion ($42.77 billion) in assets under management.

Aviso is also intended to meet the needs of credit union partners and their members. Credit union centrals represent about 300 credit unions across Canada.

Cormier stated that with C$55 billion in assets, they feel that they are already quite a strong player in the country as a wealth management group that will be able to provide customers full-range of products and services.

Additionally, Aviso is expected to be placed in a better position to react to a changing market as well as with rising competition in all wealth managements segments.    

The firm will be created through businesses of their subsidiaries, including Credential Financial Inc., Qtrade Canada Inc., and NEI Investments.

These three merging firms currently have a total of 600 employees and together will be able to offer investors a wide range of services.

Desjardins’ Qtrade current chief executive Bill Packham said that in every area of their business, including wealth and asset management, online brokerage, as well as digital and correspondent services, they each have been successful and profitable between at least two or three companies.

As a result, they decided to put them together, so as to make them stronger and to combine their resources.    

Aviso’s plan is to combine the businesses of these three firms during a transition period that is expected to take 12 to 18 months after closing of agreement.

Desjardins, the centrals, and CUMIS will have equal ownership of Aviso, with each having a 50 percent stake, while Packham will be in charge of the new company.

While Credential, Qtrade, and NEI have been a success, the partnership is expected to create a vertically integrated wealth management business that will be financially better.   

Packham stated that Aviso will be much stronger, with greater potential for growth, profitability, and innovation than the existing companies could accomplish on their own.  

Cormier also said that Aviso will, in all aspects, offer credit union members and other clients a strong alternative to the banks as well as other wealth management firms, adding that the partnership is another big step towards their pan-Canadian growth.

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